by Job Abraria (photos: Jeff McSweeney)
Looking for Central Illinois’ most surprising new fitness trend that won’t land you anywhere near a gym? Here is your answer, fresh from the fifties. Hula Hooping.
At first I thought it was an attention getter for a fund raiser. The fifth time I saw a group gathering to “hoop” I realized I needed to check this out. What I learned surprised even me. They are on to something awesome.
Physical Fitness. This is something you can really do to get in shape. Hula hooping burns 400 to 600 calories an hour. It is core strengthener and low impact so it is great if you have bad knees. It offers a consistent cardio level so if you are looking to strengthen a bad heart, this might work for you. Always consult your physician before trying any new exercise activity.
Very nice people. My preconceived notion was that to move your body in this almost exhibitionist way meant that the hoopers would be attention-seekers.
What I found was a very free flowing and supportive group. What also surprises me about the group was how introverted everyone was. After talking with them I realized that, as individual, each person had a shyness about them. Story after story related how hooping had helped them out of a shell – be it weight loss or a fitness quest.
Very communal. The group welcomes new hoopers with open arms and seems to have formed organically. Most met through music or performance-based activities and have grown the group by constantly inviting people to come try it out.
While the vibe is patchouli and festival; don’t rush to put a label on it. These are fully fleshed and whole individual personalities with healthy levels of self-esteem and pride. It is interesting how comfortable in their bodies they are.
Movements like these are learned through practice: trial, error, and success. One can only surmise that their strong esteem and comfort level is built up by the constant success experienced by learning and mastering new tricks.
The music flowed constantly with each hooper moving in his or her own way. They also do not limit themselves to hoops. Some move with other items, such as martial arts poles, juggling items, and poi - fire breathing materials. Hula Hoops, surprisingly, come in all sizes and weights. They can be custom-made or purchased from some makers within the groups online.
Note to obvious: This can be sexy stuff. To say it could not would be naïve. Google any hula hoop video and you will see what I mean.
The intent however is not to be erotic but to enjoy his or her body’s movement to its fullest. It is no difference than some movements of hip hop dance. It is beautiful to watch and the sensory reaction when performing offers its own reward.
If you are interested in joining them, expect to be welcomed enthusiastically. Find them through their facebook pages: Heart of Illinois Hoopers or Peoria Hoopers. If you want more information on hooping a good informational site is hooping.org. To buy hoops or materials, try hoopcity.ca or Etsy.
Fitness impact: Four stars – Your core is engaged through the entirety of the activity.
Learning Curve: Two stars – If you have a natural ability for dance and rhythm it will be easy, but if not expect for some effort to get the hang of it.
Social Aspect: Five stars – Very welcoming to beginners and new hoopers. You will definitely make a friend.
Availability/Cost: Three stars – Options exist for all investment levels.